Help me be apartment free for one month.
September 28, 2011 2:34 PM   Subscribe

What are some cheap and interesting ways to spend 2-3 weeks without a home in and around the Bay Area? (examples: camping, retreats in redwood forest, etc).

I'm making some changes in my life and will be home-free for a spell. Most of my waking hours are spoken for during this month of transition, but I am looking for interesting ways/places/sites to go for sleeping/evening/weekends. Suggestions can be creative, unusual, cheap, remote, peaceful, industrial - all are welcome.

I have:
1. Some cash, but not crazy amounts.
2. A truck with a topper.
3. A tent and sleeping bag.
4. A fondness for unusual living arrangements.
5. Stuff to cook with.
6. High tolerance for weather and uncertainty.
7. Low expectations.

This is a fun thing for me, so if I don't find something interesting I'll just sublet or whatever. Time span is Oct 9 through 31.
posted by fake to Travel & Transportation around Oakland, CA (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Big Basin Tent Cabins. Booked up on most weekends, but lots of availability on weekdays, if that works for you.
posted by ambrosia at 2:52 PM on September 28, 2011

Well, you missed Burning Man by a month, but lots of people camp out in the Playa throughout the year - it's a big place. Make sure it's not rainy when you go or you might just get stuck out there. And please pack-it-in and pack-it-out. Burning Man self-reliancy and self-sustaining rules are excellent examples of how to do it right. Check out info on the Black Rock Desert here.
posted by HeyAllie at 3:24 PM on September 28, 2011

Anthony Chabot in Oakland has year-round camping, with hot showers! You have to reserve online in advance. Other East Bay parks are probably worth checking out as well.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:24 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oops, looks like online reservations are for group camps only, and you have to call for regular campgrounds.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:26 PM on September 28, 2011

If this were me and I had a taste for adventure I think I'd put up a Craigslist ad offering to petsit for anyone with wifi, for any sort of pet, and see what comes up. If this were actual me I think I'd hit up my friends in the area and offer to cook them tasty meals in exchange for getting to crash a night or two on their couch. You could line up maybe ten people and not stay more than two nights and have a decent time. Of course your main concern might be finding parking. From what I gather, the San Fran area specifically has sort of been cracking down on people overtly living in their cars which doesn't mean that people don't do it, but it might mean it's not that much fun if you're looking over your shoulder. I've had totally good luck if I was in a jam, setting up camp in a hotel/motel parking lot (not in the middle of a big city, but just outside of them, or a place like this) which attracts very little attention and often comes with free wifi.

Specific suggestions. I've stayed here and really liked it. I have not stayed here but have visited and it is lovely, same with this place. This place is intriguing but I haven't made it out there.

Best advice for car camping is have a back up plan in case someone flakes out or in case your quiet campground is overrun with folks you don't quite click with. Get some good audiobooks and a lot of tasty foods that are good to pop into your mouth in the morning so you don't have to do the early morning hustle for food first thing. This goes double if you are a coffee drinker.
posted by jessamyn at 4:22 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Since you can travel by vehicle there are numerous places along the coast of Sonoma and Mendocino counties (Northbay) and inland along the Russian and Eel river. Off the top of my head Stump Beach is beautiful and Salt Point nearby has campgrounds. On the Russian River just north of Cloverdale is the highway 101 Geyser Rd. exit. There are plenty of places you could set up a tent on the river and wake up to a swim every morning. Point Reyes is another great spot. Good luck.
posted by Odinhead at 5:56 PM on September 28, 2011

We've stayed at Anthony Chabot many many times over the years. It's really lovely and you'd never know you were so close to such a huge urban population. We've never had any trouble getting a spot just by driving up, but one thing to know is that they lock the gates at 10 pm and there is no getting inside after that.
posted by jvilter at 6:22 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Butano State Park
Angel Island
Samuel P Taylor

These are all within an hour plus or minus for traffic from Oakland / SF.

Finally pick up a copy of this book it has not let us down yet.

I have also hiked up into the water shed above Berkeley / Orinda and rolled out the bag for the night. No fires no lights hush hush.
posted by pianomover at 7:16 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Make a Couchsurfing account? I put a question mark there because many hosts are suspicious of people with brand-spanking-new accounts. It's a very community-oriented site, there are Couchsurfing meetups, activity groups, and other events related to the site beyond its function as way to sleep on someone cool's couch or floor for free / let someone cool sleep on your couch or floor. Try to network to see if you know anyone else on the site - when I first signed up, I was able to find a few people I knew from college and other friends, and we wrote each other references from times we crashed at each other's places, and otherwise promising the Couchsurfing world that we were reasonable people.

Hosts who live in great neighborhoods in San Francisco near lots of public transit will, of course, be bombarded with requests and probably not respond. But even just in Oakland, not to mention many of the small towns in the Bay Area, hosts are more likely to be receptive, and in the Bay Area you're likely to find all kinds of unusual living arrangements.

(And of course, don't try to stay with one person for all 3 weeks.)
posted by fireflies at 9:31 AM on September 29, 2011

There is a MetaFilter group on Couchsurfing that has almost 200 members. You can get people to write you some recs and put up a photo or two and people should treat you decently.
posted by jessamyn at 9:35 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Got it. I've been following the suggestions in this thread and feel pretty well set-up for however long I'll be out, which might not be as long as I thought. Thanks everyone for the great answers.
posted by fake at 9:54 AM on September 29, 2011

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